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Smoked Salmon on white plate
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4.67 from 9 votes

How to Smoke Salmon - Smoked Salmon Recipe

Taking the time to smoke your salmon gives the salmon a very distinctive smoky flavor and refined texture. Enjoy this salmon warm simply on it's own, pair with cream cheese, cucumbers, or crackers as an appetizer, or layer it cooled on a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast!
Prep Time16 hrs 15 mins
Cook Time6 hrs
Total Time1 d
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best smoked salmon recipe, homemade smoked salmon, how to smoke salmon, smoked salmon recipe, wet brine smoked salmon
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 313kcal
Author: Michael Haas


  • smoker


  • 3 lbs salmon Large fillet preferred
  • 11.5 cups water
  • 1 3/8 cup kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder


  • Mix the water and ingredients together in a large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil to help dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from heat and let cool in the fridge for 3-4 hours.
  • Rinse the salmon fillet in cold water. If the salmon still has skin, remove it at this time.
  • Cut the salmon into 3” wide by 4-5” length strips. I find this is an ideal portion size and the smoke penetrates the salmon evenly.
  • Once the brine is cooled place the salmon into the large pot of brine. Cover and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.
  • After the brining process, remove the salmon and lightly dry it. Place the salmon on some racks and let sit on the counter for 4 hours. This lets the salmon dry evenly and creates a shiny skin called pellicle. This is a crucial step because the smoke will adhere to the salmon properly.
  • Preheat your smoker: I start my smoker at 100F. I typically use maple wood for smoking Salmon.
  • Once the smoker is ready I lightly oil the grills so the salmon will not stick. Place the salmon in the smoker for two hours. After the two hours move the smoker temperature to 140F and smoke another two hours. Then turn the smoker to 175F and smoke for two more hours. This is a total of six hours.
  • If your smoker can not operate at such a low temp, smoke the salmon for five hours at 165F.
  • Remove the salmon and place on racks to cool on your counter. Rest for one hour. After the resting, you are ready to enjoy. Refrigerate the remaining portions.


Serving: 6oz | Calories: 313kcal | Carbohydrates: 22.7g | Protein: 33.1g | Fat: 10.5g | Saturated Fat: 1.5g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 800mg | Potassium: 400mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 22.2g | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 1mg